The Patriots bolstered their receiving corps by trading for veteran wide receiver Mohamed Sanu on Tuesday.
Now in his eighth season, Sanu has started 86 of 110 games playing for the Cincinnati Bengals and the Atlanta Falcons, hauling in 377 passes for 4,300 yards and 25 touchdowns. Here’s a closer look at quarterback Tom Brady’s newest weapon.
A Jersey guy
Sanu is originally from Sayreville, N.J., but also lived in his parents’ native Sierra Leone as a child. The family made its way back to New Jersey to live in Dayton, where Sanu starred at South Brunswick High, playing safety, wide receiver, and quarterback. He passed for 900 yards and rushed for 700 on offense, and had 90 tackles with five interceptions on defense to draw the attention of Rutgers.
A perfect fit?
Sanu has two trademarks that will endear him to Patriots coach Bill Belichick: He is versatile, and he went to Rutgers, where he was a teammate of Patriots defensive backs Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon, as well as assistant coach Steve Belichick.
He declared for the NFL Draft after his junior year at Rutgers, where he was first-team All-Big East in 2011. He was considered by some to be one of the top five receivers in the draft and finished his college career with 210 receptions for 2,263 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns. He also returned kicks and played under center when Rutgers would employ the wildcat formation, throwing four touchdowns en route to winning the Paul Hornung Award, presented to the most versatile player in major college football. He can also punt.
His versatility continued in the NFL, where he has carried the ball 40 times for 215 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and he also has completed seven of eight passes for 233 yards and four touchdowns.
Not so funny joke
He was the victim of a draft day prank, receiving a phone call at the end of the first round in 2012 from someone claiming to be with the Cincinnati Bengals and saying the organization would select him with the 27th pick. It turned out to be a hoax though, as Sanu remained on the board until the Bengals actually did select him the next day in the third round with the 83rd pick.
James Urban was Cincinnati’s receivers coach at the time, and made the call.
“I said, ‘Hey Mo, it’s James Urban. You want to be a Bengal — this time, for real?’ “ Urban said.
He gives back
Sanu started Sanu’s Crew Football Camp in partnership with the Embrace Kids Foundation, an organization that helps children with serious health issues. He has held the camp at South Brunswick High. He wrote about his struggles growing up in an article for The Players’ Tribune.
Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins considers Sanu a mentor. Haskins’s best friend is Sanu’s nephew, Mohamed Jabbie, a wide receiver for Rutgers. Haskins called Sanu’s mentorship a great tool for him as he prepared for the NFL.
“He means everything. . . As far as him playing quarterback in high school (for South Brunswick) to him making that jump to receiver and him playing really well for Atlanta. He’s given me all the tools to be able to learn how to work out as a pro. Being able to hang out with him in the offseason, he’s been a great tool for me.”
You want a piece of him?
In 2014, a company called Fantex offered shares of Sanu for $10. The company paid a dividend of $0.20 per share for its Fantex Series Mohamed Sanu Convertible Tracking Stock (OTC: SANUL) on July 30, 2015.
Follow Andrew Mahoney on Twitter @GlobeMahoney.